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Panegyrist - Hierurgy

by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 03 July 2018, 10:39 AM

Hailing from Chicago, Illinois, USA, Black Metal quintet PANEGYRIST presents their debut album on the enigmatic but always diverse and interesting I, Voidhanger record label. The six track album is an expression of “burning religious impulse,” exploring the theme of “theosis,” whereby the individual is transformed and united with God though the operations by the “divine energies.” The short opening track “Hymn of Inversion” is just as it reads…a hymn with deep and personally interpretive lyrics that sound unassuming, but could easily be wicked. It segues into “Idylls of the Cave,” which I would loosely describe as Black Metal, but there isn’t a lot of instrumentation, save for running double bass drums. The guitars and bass keep a steady presence but the focus of the sound really seems to come from the vocals, both harsh and clean. “Hear me Christ aflame, as I fall into myself. A droplet into this subtle void. Hear me Christ aflame, as I fall into myself. Afloat into the emptiness I speak.”

“To Quicken Stone” is a near ten minute behemoth. Again we have a combination of vocal techniques and some chord progressions that are off of the usual path. At times the sound id harrowing, and at others, oddly soothing. Or, is it all just an illusion? “May out voices harrow you that you should never forget. With burning syllables mark me thee witness henceforth into death.” The instrumental passages build on a central sequence of a key before dropping off as you seem to float in a black sea, where shadowy figures of death take shelter. “The Void is the Heart of the Flame” opens with soft acoustic guitar and electric bass, soon joined by soft clean vocals. Again there is that feeling here that all is calm and lucid but within lurks something much darker; much more nefarious. There is dissonance in both the way the vocals and guitar keys interact, as well as the way the bass and guitar keys intersect. “By the Eye I see. The chasm dilates admittance. Lucid is the darkness at the Center of the Eye. By the Void I see Thy Light Given.”  Seemingly warm overall, it bubbles with a frozen core that you can’t quite touch. “Ophidian Cricifix” has a full sound out of the gate. “In thee we transform death though counterwisdoms.” In the movement of the song, you can start to feel things coming together in a central vision. It pushes and pulls sometimes in opposite directions but culminates very nicely as a final product.

The title track closes the album, at over twelve minutes. “Hierurgy” means “ritual” or “holy work.” Piano notes dance along with lead guitar and bass, forming an amorphous shape at first. From there it takes a little more of a linear direction, wrapping up the tale with some sophisticated but still mysterious and suspenseful songwriting. “In living I want nothing more. In dying nothing more I seek. But I should come to you at last and tremble as my name you speak.” For me, these last two tracks were the most meaningful and well written on the album, but as a whole, it was a pleasing experience in one of the most unique ways I have had.

In dealing with religious themes in Metal, especially in Black Metal, we often have polarizing views. What makes this album so unique is the way it is able to play with these conflicting views in a manner that just seems like second nature; almost side-stepping the blows that come from all directions without being hit once. They lyrics are fascinating and have deep personal meaning. I suppose the wild card here is that the concept of “God” does not necessarily mean that big guy in white high in the sky in the Christian concept of heaven. The beauty of the music is that it is left up to the listener to decide. Enjoy this as something “out of the box” but still wonderfully crafted.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 9
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Hymn of Inversion
2. Idylls of the Cave
3. To Quicken Stone
4. The Void is the Heart of the Flame
5. Ophidian Crucifix
6. Hierurgy
Elijah Tamu – Vocals, Guitars
David Cramer – Keyboards, Vocals
Vincent Ippolito – Guitars
Brendan Maine – Guitars
Paul Moore – Bass
Record Label: I, Voidhanger


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